Bijaya Krishna Shrestha
The Pioneer of the Hi Tech in Nepal
Published in CORE, Sept/Oct, 1995
Biruwako Chillo Pat
was interested in Science and Technology since my childhood. First thing
that I designed and made was an electric motor. I had made even the
laminations of the core myself by cutting the iron sheets. I used to do
similar small projects involving electrical and electronics designs on
my own", born in 1942, in Patan, Mr. Muni Bahadur Sakya, the
pioneer in the Nepalese computer field puts forward his profound
interest in the field of the science and technology.
He was equally interested in
astronomy. He used to watch the sky all night long with the telescope he
had made by himself, using his grandpa's lenses. He used to know all the
planets and most of the stars. He would put his telescope in a wooden
bench and let the people view the eclipse at a function held in Patan on
the night of the eclipse. People were able to see the shadow move along
To add to the list of his boyhood
achievements, is a radio receiver set that he had designed and
fabricated to listen to the Radio Nepal. People used to make fun of him
for the contraptions he had developed." They used to call me 'Radio Banaune Manche Ayo' when I pass by them", he recalls early days of
his adventure in the field of electronics. He had designed coils to
catch radio at various bands. That's how he gained his appetite for
"I thought in order to satisfy
my keen interest in the field of electronics, I should opt for
engineering", said Mr. Sakya who acquired his Diploma in Radio
Engineering from Calcutta in India in 1962. He started his career in the
field of electronics from Radio Nepal as a technician.
there is a will there is a way
In 1970, Mr. Sakya went to UK on a British
Council Scholarship and obtained the degree of C. Engineering."
During that time it was very difficult to get any information in the
field of science and technology in Nepal. I was able to find complete
solution to most of my queries in UK. I found that it was easy to get
any information that I was looking for and people were well versed in
the practical as well as theoretical aspects.", he recollects his
experiences in UK.
Upon his return from UK, he
accomplished several design and fabrication works, such as laboratory
type stabilized power supply, sine wave generator etc. " I used to
give a lot of time and devotion to electronics", he reveals the
secret of his achievements.
Sakya into Computers
"I was interested in computers since I was in
UK, but I was nowhere at that time." Muni had the opportunity to go
to France in 1978 through RSS ( Rastriya Samachar Samiti) where he was
working then. It was then he decided to switch to the field of
computers. Muni Sakya worked at RSS from 1973 to 79.
He made microprocessor based
controllers and video cards while he was doing the course in
Communication, Digital Electronics and Computer Techniques in France.
"In 1979, I made the first microcomputer
in Nepal. It had 1Kb memory. I had made the power supply unit and the
video card myself. I had bought keyboard from US and made the monitor
from a Russian TV", Mr. Sakya speaks proudly of his greatest
achievement in life.
In the South Asian Regional
Conference on computers held at Blue Star Hotel in Kathmandu in 1979, in
which 8 countries had participated, Mr. Muni Sakya had opportunity to
demonstrate his microcomputer. That was a big news and it got a
to learn and to do more
It was the thirst to learn more in the field
of computer design that Mr. Sakya on his own went to US in 1981. Even
India had not done much in the field of microcomputers at that time.
" I was lucky as well as brave enough, I would say, that I was able
to work in research related projects in US." He was involved with
the company in designing computer cards. He worked in the development of
floppy disk controllers with 900Kb (quad density) storage space when
Apple computer was using only 80Kb per diskette.
"Seagate had made 5Mb hard disks
but there were no I/O card for them. After I came back from the US, I
made the I/O card required for that hard disk which was put in use in
Agricultural Development Bank", Mr. Muni Sakya, the Executive
Director of Hi-Tech Pioneer (Pvt.) Ltd., talks of his indigenous works.
He has also designed microprocessor based traffic controllers in
Sakya and Computing in Nepalese Language
"I did my first demonstration of
computing in Nepalese language in a microcomputer with the display of
Nepalese National Anthem in Devnagarik in 1983. It was on a CP/M based
computer. That was quite a news even in the outside world. Even India
had not been able to do it at that time." Credit of introducing
computing in Nepalese goes to none but to Mr. Muni Sakya. He got the
Science Award in December 1983 for this work.
"It was not easy to program in
Nepalese. There were only a handful of programmers. Because of the
difficulty in the programming part, computing in Nepalese was limited to
word processing. However, in 1985, Agricultural Development Bank started
the data processing in Nepalese in a minor scale. Now the picture is
different. We have newer fonts, and tools which can be used for data
processing and professional desktop publications."
Muni Sakya has recently developed a
software package complete with all the Nepalese characters. It has been
developed with the consultation of experts of Sanskrit and Hindi. The
certificates and cheques were printed in Nepali language in Capital
Market (NIDC) using the same. Demonstration of the product has been done
to the various potential users viz., Malpot and Napi Departments.
"Now we are capable of developing professional Nepali packages in
Nepalese language. There were limitations in the past but no more
now", Muni Sakya sees the scope for the further development of
computing specifically in Nepalese language.
Talking about the marketing of the
product Muni Sakya says that he plans to give the complete professional
package free of cost to all of his hardware customers.
dream come true : Sun Moon Computer Industry Pvt. Ltd.
"It was my dream to start a computer
industry in Nepal. After I came back from the United States, I made
computers on my own and explored my potentials and confidence in
establishing the industry." Mr. Sakya opened the first industry to
manufacture computer cards in Nepal in a joint venture, 'Sun Moon
Computer Industry' early this year.
"When I went to the Department
of Industry to get license to open the industry to manufacture computer
cards in Nepal, I had a tough time in convincing the authorities. It
took me 3-4 years to get the license." Muni Sakya had some bitter
experiences with the government. However, he appreciates the government
for the reduction in taxation on the computer parts and components by 5%
compared to the computers.
call of the time
"Many ways I could say yes I am what I
wanted to be. Because personally I have achieved most of the things that
I had once dreamed of. But when I look at countries like Taiwan,
Singapore, Malaysia etc. who have developed because of the development
in the field of computers in their countries, I feel sad. Nepal declares
itself as a 'Krishi Pradhan Desh'. It is next to impossible to improve
our economy with that policy", Mr. Sakya thinks that the computer
industry is the potential and viable industry for the rapid development
"I have been through Panchayat,
Congress, and UML government. But none of their government ever realized
the importance of this field. They always took computer as a luxury. It
is not a luxury item and should not be treated as a luxury. Computer is
an inevitable and versatile educational tool."
Talking about the limitations he
says, " I have profound interest and understanding in the field of
electronics and computers. But, for the development of the country,
unless there is positive attitude and a solid funding from the
government for a project, one can not work any further."
Computer Industry : past, present and the future
" History of computers in Nepal is very
short. It started from IBM 1401 from NCC and the Apple in the mid
seventies. Apple even the CP/M based, was very much in use during the
eighties. That was a good start for Nepal", Muni Sakya recalls the
past of Nepal's computer Industry.
" I feel glad to see the recent
development in the field of computers in our country. Computers are now
used in every day life in schools, NGOs, INGOs etc. Within the five
years span computer sector has grown tremendously. Now the scene is
that, the software packages are available in Nepal as soon as they are
released in the world and the Nepalese are upto date with the
technological developments in the world. However, computer is a highly
complicated tool and its optimum use is not widespread even in developed
countries, not to mention about Nepal." That's how Muni Sakya
evaluates the present scenario of the computer industry in our country.
Future of the computer industry looks
pretty bright to Muni Sakya. He says, " People of the young
generation who have gone abroad to pursue studies in the field of
computers will definitely bring new things and ideas. There are so many
things that can be done in Nepal, both in software and hardware. There
is notable brain in software development. Though the prospects of
hardware industry is risky at a glance, there are ample of opportunities
for Nepal in this area as well."
Sakya sees the prospect of export
"In order to export software to the
international market, know-how of the product of international standard
is required. So, the nation must give opportunities for the people to
get exposed to the outside world and also attract people who have gone
abroad for studies and stop the existing problem of braindrain",
Mr. Sakya highlights the problems in the export of software.
"Hardware and software should go
hand in hand. There is higher degree of competency in the export of the
hardware product in order to meet the universal component standard. In a
Joint Venture like mine, partners will always be cautious in the
production quality product. However, it is cost effective to manufacture
hardware parts in Nepal even when the cost of the two way freight is
included. But the lower profile in the market and the comparatively less
profit of the hardware business makes it less attractive to Nepalese at
present. However, the government should encourage the interested
entrepreneurs", Mr. Sakya shares his feelings.
He feels the need of a governmental
policy to attract foreign and Nepalese investors by providing special
benefits, such as loan and tax holiday.
Works of Muni Sakya
Mr. Muni Sakya has been primarily interested
in designing systems that can be operated in the Nepalese language.
This system consists of a computer, trained
with the personalised voice and command through microphone, to control
various outside world devices such as water pump, radio, fan, music
system etc. It can also be trained to understand Nepalese language.
This system gives the English word typed on
the keyboard of the computer to be spoken out in Nepalese language.
Aided Education in Nepal
This package helps the school goers learn the
basic mathematics through the computer and simplifies the learning
Nepalese to English, English to Nepalese dictionary.
22900 words. (Windows based)
This system monitors the alpha, beta and gamma
radiation level and sets the alarm on if the radiation is above the
This system will display Nepalese sub-titles
for various TV programs broadcasted in other languages.
Animation with synchronized pictures of Nepal
and sound is developed. This could be a new opening for artists,
musicians, writers etc.
ke linu udi chhunu chandra eka
Muni Sakya thrives for total computing in
Nepalese with Nepalese menus and commands so that people can work with
computer without the knowledge of English language, just like Japanese,
Chinese operating computers without the knowledge of English.
Message to the young generation from the Pioneer
ďAll those who have gone abroad for studies
in this field, please come back to your country and work for any
engineering project or start one on your own. You may be underpaid or
might have to struggle hard in the beginning, but you will ultimately
gain satisfaction, since your contribution is vital for the development
of this nation."